How to Choose Your Decking Material
Outdoor decking space has become additional essential entertaining space for families today in North Jersey and around the country. But choosing your decking material can be a daunting task! That’s why we have compiled summaries of the most popular materials out there today to help you decide.
It is important to consider maintenance when choosing material for your deck. Treated lumber is quite popular- our lumberyards in North Jersey sell a good deal of it.
Treated decking is initially low cost, but don’t forget to factor in the price of staining, sealing, or painting it every year. Keep in mind you’ll need to wait to stain, paint, or seal a treated deck after a new build. The amount of time you will need to wait varies between types of pressure treated decking as well as the environment, but it can be anywhere between two weeks and 6 months. The best way to tell is to sprinkle some water on the deck. If the water beads up, you need to wait. If it absorbs, then it is ready for finishing.
You’ll also need to power wash your deck once a year before you re-stain it. If you don’t own your own power washer, renting one ranges around $35- $144 daily according to pressurewashr.com plus the cost of cleaning products.
Treated decking has an average lifespan of about 10- 15 years, depending on maintenance and your environment.
Cedar decking’s price point falls between treated lumber and composite. Cedar is very beautiful, and we do sell a decent amount up here in our North Jersey lumberyards.
Cedar is naturally resistant to insects, and also somewhat resistant to rot. Cedar is visually appealing with beautiful coloring. You can get what is generally called “Select” tight knot cedar with minimal defects and some sapwood. This type of cedar is regarded as the best grade for decking. However, cedar decking is a soft wood. This means if you drag heavy furniture across it or use it for stairs it will show wear, especially on the edges. Similar to treated decking, you will still need to stain and reseal the deck every year. Even when doing so, that doesn’t guarantee that the natural color of the deck won’t fade. The average lifespan of a cedar deck is 15- 20 years.
Despite the higher initial cost, composite decking is known for its strength and durability. It is also very popular- in fact Excelsior and Kaslander Lumber stock composite decking in our North Jersey building supply yards.
Composite decking is made from recycled materials such as plastic bags (HDPE/LDPE) and sawdust. Composite decking is capped on three or four sides (depending on which brand you choose) with a cap that prevents water and moisture from penetration. Having a cap prevents color fading and staining, which was a typical complaint of the early composites. Composite decking will have some sort of pattern embossed on it to make it look like natural wood grain for an aesthetic purpose, as well as to reduce slippage. You can find composite decking with solid color or some variation in color to mimic natural wood. Most, if not all composite deck brands offer stain, fade, decay, rot and splintering warranties. Depending on the brand, the warranty can cover up to 25 years.
PVC is newer than composites but has grown in popularity these past few years. Some composite brands such as Fiberon and Wolf have PVC lines as well. Our lumberyards in North Jersey sell PVC decking, although not as frequently as treated or composite.
PVC (polyvinylchloride) decking is higher priced compared to other types of decking. Similar to composites, it is also capped on three sides and is extremely durable. PVC is a lighter board to work with. It has slightly more deflection and a tendency to expand and contract more than composites do. For best results when working with PVC it is recommended that you frame the deck 12” on center to help with deflection.
PVC decking is used frequently in water applications. In certain instances PVC decking is more slip resistant, but that varies between brands. Another benefit for water applications is lightweight ability for floating docks, and the fact that PVC will never rot makes it a great choice.
One thing to consider is PVC decking is newer to the market with stain and fade warranties.
This concludes our summary of decking types. Choosing decking is a personal choice and in the end that choice belongs to you, the homeowner. We hope that now you can make your choice with confidence!